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Crime Fri Apr 23 2010

Cameras in Cabs Coming Soon to Prevent Crime

Think twice before you act a fool in a Chicago cab: the driver will soon be able to snap a picture of you to use if you get out of line.

The Trib is reporting that cameras will be installed in cabs around the city in an effort to curb crimes against drivers.

According to the article, in other cities where cameras have been installed, such crimes have dropped considerably. Already installed in some cabs, they've been used to easily solve crimes against Chicago drivers in the past.

Last fall, local journalist Kari Lydersen wrote a disturbing Chicago Reader cover story on the dangers that faced cab drivers in the city, focusing on the case of Walid Ziada, who was beaten last January in Lakeview. His experience is fairly common: a 2009 University of Illinois-Chicago study reported one in five cabbies have been assaulted on the job.

In addition to the dangers of driving, most cab drivers make far less than minimum wage. According to a 2009 study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Center for Labor and Employment Relations and the American Friends Service Committee, "cabdrivers are chronically overworked and underpaid close to the point of 'economic failure,'" working grueling 12-hour days and making an average of $4.38 an hour. Michael McConnell, regional director of the AFSC, called Chicago cabs "sweatshops on wheels."

Insanely long hours, miniscule pay, high risk of robbery, frequent acts of brutal violence--it's enough to make you think twice before complaining about the high price of your cab fare next time. Besides, you should probably straighten up now that your driver will have a snapshot of you.

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